Four Fast Thoughts on YA and MG Genres #AuthorToolboxBlogHop
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Thank you Raimey!
In 2008, my son was born. My life changed. No longer quite so free to go out wherever I wanted, I happily stayed in with my first born, rocking him, cooing over him, helping him roll over and crawl.
In those quiet moments of holding him in my arms while he slept, I began to read again. On one of my mom’s visits from Colorado, she suggested we get out for a brief afternoon to see an actual movie—Twilight, the new hot young adult craze.
“Twilight?” I asked, because I hadn’t heard of it. I did want to get out though, and I sat in the packed theater gradually drawn into the slow, windy town, the character dynamics and new friendships. I loved every last bit of the movie along with the young audience. When I found out the movie stemmed from a series of books, I bought them all and read them each, word for word.
Twilight was my first introduction into the Young Adult genre. I quickly discovered other amazing authors like Becca Fitzpatrick, Maggie Stiefvater, Alyson Noel and Richelle Mead. Young Adult books seemed so refreshing with younger voices I could easily relate to, nail biting growth as they dealt with major life hurdles and humanely failed, then eventually succeeded to some degree.
Today in 2019, the genre has exploded—divided if you will. We have Young Adult with all sorts of subgenres. We also have Middle Grade, an equally healthy younger genre.
Some folks may ask, “aren’t young voices all young?” Definitely not. There’s a huge difference between books for Middle Grade and books for Young Adult. I had no idea some of the specifics were so detailed so I thought I’d mention a few today.
- Age Group.
- An 8-11-year old perspective verses a 17-year old. The struggles are definitely different in an 8- year old world from a 16, even 13-year old.
- Middle Grade stories are often told in 1st person perspective.
- Book Length.
- Middle Grade is much shorter with an average word count between 30–50 K words verses YA at 50-75K.
- Voice through the world specific to the age.
- Dialogue should sizzle with what your audience really says and would say or do, which is tricky sometimes when you think of bad language. In the articles I read, definitely think twice about bad language in middle grade books. A good point to consider: Middle Grade audiences often get their books primarily from parents, librarians, and teachers.
A great quote on what age to make your MC from article one in Writer’s Digest: “remember that kids “read up,” which means they want to read about characters who are older than they are.”
- Themes important to the different age groups.
- Middle Grade focus on relationships in their world.
- YA focus on what’s their world beyond their relationships.
- Agent Alex Slater with Trident Media Group was quoted in Writer’s Digest as clarifying character and world to the different genres: “a colleague once said something like, ‘MG literature explores how a character finds the world, and YA literature examines how the world finds a character’.”
Any fun tips you’d like to share on YA and MG differences? I’d love to hear it.